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Israel : YAALON & STEINITZ of ISRAEL butt heads over defense budget.

The ongoing dispute about the defense establishment's demand for budgets turned into a personal row between Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and International Relations, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who exchanged worded statements, against the backdrop of the Israeli Air Force's decision to suspend all nonessential flights.

Steinitz accused the defense establishment of resorting to shifty manipulation to sway public opinion. There is some deliberate misleading of the government, the Knesset and the public.

The Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said that in a democracy the military shouldn't manipulate the government. There are times when the military chooses to schedule a certain number of training sessions due to a limited period of time, and afterwards it announced its intentions to cancel training because the budget is insufficient -- that's manipulation.

Steinitz warned that it's not always in Israel's best interest to let the enemy know, through the media, that it's canceling military training.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered the suspension of training sessions for the reserve forces, and he and Ya'alon, cited severe budget constraints, ordered the IAF to ground all nonessential and training flights, starting June 1. The IAF was ordered to prioritize and pare down some of its operational flights.

The measure will exclude the IAF's flight school, but stands to affect training flights involving cargo planes and Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion and Apache helicopters.

The defense has been warning that the military's funds were dwindling rapidly and that various nonessential and essential configurations would have to be temporarily decommissioned.

The IDF needs an additional 750 million shekels ($216 million) to its budget to minimally sustain the armed forces' competence, on top of funds detailed in previous agreements the Finance Ministry has defaulted on, amounting to NIS 2.15 billion.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Jun 3, 2014
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